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80-year-old woman lands plane after husband dies at controls

posted 5 Apr 2012, 07:41 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 5 Apr 2012, 07:42 ]

In an audio recording released by the Door County Sheriff's Department, 80-year-old Helen Collins sounds calm as she performs an emergency landing of a small plane after her husband dies at the controls.

STURGEON BAY, WISCONSIN, UNITED STATES (APRIL 2, 2012)  (DOOR COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT HANDOUT) - An 80-year-old woman with very little flight experience maintained her composure as she took over flight controls after her pilot husband's fatal collapse, landing their twin-engine plane as it was running out of gas on Monday (April 2).

In an audio recording released by the Door County Sheriff's Department, Helen Collins calmly discussed the runway location and her low fuel level before her attempt to land the plane.

"You better get me in it pretty soon. I don't know how long I'm going to have gas," Collins said.

Helen Collins and her husband, John, were both taken to the hospital. He was pronounced dead, while she was held for observation, local officials in Wisconsin said.

The couple had flown their twin-engine Cessna from Georgia to their home in Sturgeon Bay, in northeast Wisconsin, before the pilot was stricken.

Helen Collins took the controls and radioed the airport and was told to circle while a local pilot was called for help. The pilot, Robert Vuksanovic, took off in his own plane to guide her down.

After two failed passes, Collins radioed that one of her engines was sputtering and losing power as her gas supply dwindled. She landed hard on the third try, collapsing the nose gear, but skidding to a stop with the plane intact.